Are you asking for customer feedback?

For every customer who bothers to complain, nearly 26 others remain silent.

How will you address the grievances of those who will just leave you silently. How will you solve the problem when you actually don’t know what the problem is.

For this you need to take initiative and start talking to your customers.The first step to get closer to your customers is asking for feedback from them.This will help you understand ‘why are they liking/disliking your product’. This will fetch you answers for the most haunting questions which remain unanswered since long.

For example : You’ve built a feature that would ease the workflow of users but don’t know why they have not been using it. Is the feature inaccessible? Are the users confused by too much information? Can they understand sufficiently how it would help them…

You can work on ruling out every possible reason you could think of one by one. But that’s time consuming, uncertain and a tedious approach to go with. Rather the best way is to ask your customers directly.

Why customer feedback is important?

To know the customer needs and problems better

It provides you with the opportunity to see the customer’s perspective.You might be good at concept(idea),design and content but the implementation you need to refine continuously based on the customer needs and problems.

“Your business should be defined not in terms of the product or service you offer but in terms of what customer need your product or service fulfills. While products come and go, basic needs and customer groups stay around.” Ken Blanchard

Customer problems help you identify the areas you need to improve on and understand what you are doing wrong, what is frustrating customers, what’s the confusion…When you know the problem you can figure out ways to solve them.But it’s important to know that the beast exists and feedback from customers nails it.

Help you identify Happy customers -who can be evangelist

When you ask for feedback you get to know, Are your customers actually with the product.Once you know your happy customers you can always ask them to spread the word for you. You can also ask for testimonials. More than likely they would be happy to help you.

Help you to understand competitors better

Generally 70% of your customers would have tried 2–3 (or more)products claiming to address the same problems as your product. Their feedback often talks about what you do better and also what your competitors do better. Don’t forget the potential customers who choose your competitors upon you. Their insights/comments/remarks help you understand how competitors are easing the workflow for users.Feedback from either customer or churned customer serves as a clear source to identify the features people are liking and what features needs to be added or improved upon to capture a larger market share.

To engage customers better

Striking frequent conversations with customers to ask for their feedback gives customers a feeling of engagement and makes them feel special. Listening to the feedback and acting on it in time would keep your relations with customer warm and lasting.This helps in customer retention and building a loyal customer base.

Things to work on before asking for feedback from customers:

  • Know why you are asking for feedback and accordingly frame a set of questions. Like if you are still in the brainstorming and prototype stage for a new feature. Your agenda for seeking feedback would revolve around; will the feature enhance customer’s workflow, is it getting optimum visibility etc. and if you simply ask customers ‘share your feedback for this feature’.customers may tell you it’s good or bad or comment on color scheme or font then it’s a waste of time.
  • Embrace the fact that you need honest feedback in your feedback pitch.
  • When you are still in the phase to start a conversation with customers then you can go for open ended questions which helps you get talking with the customer.Like you can ask for ‘What features would you like to be added to the product and why?’ or ‘How can we improve a particular feature?’ etc.
  • Keep a personal touch while asking for feedback and don’t forget to send a thank you note for each feedback you receive.
  • If you have improved something considering the last feedback from the customer and now you are approaching the customer again for feedback; Do mention what you have improved, this would encourage customers to give you more feedback.
  • Don’t overwhelm customers with multiple questions; just ask minimal questions. Please remember your customers are quite busy; so just ask a few relevant questions only.
  • Plan out a way to properly manage and analyse feedback.If you haven’t figured out a proper plan to manage feedback then you might miss important insights from customers.

How to get customer feedback?

There are mediums from where you can extract indirect customer feedback like

  • By listening and monitoring Social media channels you get to know what end users think about the product. Also you can answer any queries that may arise, thus making it easy for your customers to reachout to you.Social media comments, polls are a good source of voluminous feedback.
  • Analytics tools help you understand the customer behaviour. You can easily make out which sections are most popular among users, where maximum users dropout, which pages your customers are visiting frequently, from where the traffic is coming, etc. With all this knowledge you get to know what customers are liking and what not.

For direct customer feedback you can opt for any of the following channels

  • During face to face customer meetings or customer calls you can always ask for feedback. But you should understand it can either be a positive feedback or negative feedback. So you need to be prepared for that.Do take notes for feedback separately to rule out any possibility of getting it lost.
  • Direct emails serve the purpose really well. You can directly Email your customers frequently. You can ask short and concise questions like what you should stop doing to minimize distractions or what should you start doing to keep them better informed. Also you can send links to your feedback survey or forms over emails. Do follow up.
  • Feedback surveys are also good options to go with.Surveys can either be short or long. Short surveys are generally preferred but long surveys are also good at times. Like if you have an established product, being around since years the simple yes/no questions might not help.You need to dig deeper to know the problems and expectation which sometimes your customers too don’t know exist, things that would enhance the experience but are not a necessity etc.
  • Using visual feedback/review tools you can add a context to the feedback where you need not struggle to understand what customer is talking about . And also makes it easy for both the parties to focus and act on problem areas.
  • Using Usability test tools you know about the experience that your customers are having, any difficulties they are facing while using the product or any confusions they are having.
  • If your customers agree; you can go for detailed customer interviews where you can ask questions like how the product has improved their workflow, what are their pains, what they like most about the product etc.
  • In App Direct chat options helps you to catch the customers when they are actually using the product. Also it gives users a feeling that someone is there to help them in every possible way.It’s a quick way to complete the feedback loop.
  • Website feedback form gives you an opportunity to listen the feedback from those who might not have even started using your product but still in a search for the right tool to fit in their workflow.

When to ask for customer feedback?

Customer feedback is important during all the phases, be it initiation, planning, execution, enhancing with new features or redesigning. If you keep you customers in the feedback loop right from the beginning, this ensures you are heading in the right direction. But do remember

“Don’t waste customers’ time asking them questions unless you are prepared to act on what they say.” — Bruce Temkin, Founder, Customer Experience Professionals association

Ask for feedback when you are in a state to act on it. If you ask for feedback and do nothing to implement it then the whole essence is lost. Working on each item suggested is not a priority but you can always prioritise the incoming feedback and add them to your roadmap. This ensures any feedback is not lost.

Final thoughts

Negative feedback gives you the direction you need to proceed in but never consider Positive feedback equivalent to ‘everything is okay’. You still need to push you customers to share more and more feedback. You need to improve regularly to stand in this competitive world and for that you need to know your flaws, the areas you lag in, the user experience and the perception customers share about your product/service.customer feedback is the best way to know all this. Just ask for feedback aggressively and extensively. Gradually you will notice all your why’s will be answered.

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